YEDaily: Stella Kim and Jina Han

Best friends Stella Kim and Jina Han began Haute Classics as an online designer consignment boutique about four years ago. In a true growth story, the demand for their well-curated collection was so high they moved offline, and opened their trendy Toronto-based Yonge Street store about a year and a half ago. These 29-year-old entrepreneurs knew how to respond to a need, and have cultivated a secure spot in a niche market. Find out more in today’s YEDaily.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Haute Classics is a consignment store offering designer brands at affordable prices. With a flourishing online store and hip Yonge St. boutique location, our one-stop shop is a retail outlet that is dedicated to providing pure luxury in the form of sought-after, gently-used designer items. Haute Classics is the go-to-source for any fashionista looking for real deal luxury goods on a budget.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
In the midst of difficult economic times, we realized that people were cutting back on dropping so much money on luxury items, but the demand for them was still high. More and more people are coming to understand the need for store solutions for new and gently-used designer items. That is why we decided to exclusively focus on consignment as a means to help sellers receive a profitable return for their goods from a trusted source in a stress-free manner, while allowing buyers to enjoy the finest luxuries for a fraction of the original cost.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is having the opportunity to work with your best friend! As BFFs, we have spent countless years anticipating the day we would work together to deliver on our artistic minds and fresh vision. While the both of us bring out different elements of our personal style, we share the same appreciation for skill, ambition and professionalism when it comes to business. We have both been highly anticipating and planning to be the driving force behind Haute Classics.

There’s also the thrill of conveniently connecting buyers with sellers of gently-used designer goods while providing a fun and luxurious shopping experience. It’s priceless to see the smile on our consignors’ faces when they are able to clean out their closets and in return, we are able to help them turn their dust‐collecting items into cash.

Our biggest challenge is reassuring our clients of our authenticity policy. While we are committed to selling only authentic designer labels and authenticate all items before adding it to our inventory, people are still uneasy about the whole idea of handing over their luxury goods to complete strangers. It was more of a trust factor, and now with a long-time reputation for carrying only authentic items, it’s been less questionable. Especially now, with the rise in counterfeit goods, we go to every measure to provide ease for our clients such as offering our 100% money back guarantee policy if anything is deemed non-authentic.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
We hope that our first store will be the first of many more. We are dedicated to providing the best platform for designer consignment and resale and would love the opportunity to connect with international customers. We hope to expand by franchising stores all across the country and also overseas.

What does success look like to you?
We see a very bright future for Haute Classics. We hope to build and uphold a strong reputation as carrying the classiest and most sought after gently-used goods, while providing a luxurious and fun shopping experience. Our reputation will be known to be reliable, responsible, affordable, and trendy yet classy.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The launch of our first retail store. We initially started online, and with the growing demand for luxury goods, we realized it was time for our customers to get a real, live consignment experience. It’s the thrill of the hunt that makes it all the more fun. It’s also great to put a face to our customers. Face-to-face interaction is always key to building a long-lasting relationship.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Follow your dreams, and get inspired! Years of hard work and training will pay off. In the end, it’s important that you will be happy doing something you are truly passionate about.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Haute Classics is a proud supporter of Corsage Project, a non-profit organization that donates gently-used prom dresses to high school girls in need. It allows the opportunity for them to celebrate the milestone of their high school graduation in style.

We highly support them because it’s not only eco-friendly, but it allows those on a frugal budget to embrace their personal style and creativity in fashion.

What is Notable to you?
A person that is generally loved and appreciated by the masses.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone hands down. Great for browsing!